Love your bones, know your risk: World Osteoporosis Day

Osteoporosis is a major worldwide health issue. In this country, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men over the age of 50 will suffer an osteoporotic break of a bone. These breaks can be life-threatening and a major cause of pain and disability, particularly as we get older.

How can we help, and how can you help yourself?

Be proactive!

Strong bones and muscles can help to prevent breaks and help you remain mobile and active, therefore increasing your quality of life. For women over the age of 45, osteoporosis accounts for more days in hospital than many other diseases such as breast cancer, diabetes and heart attacks. With major breaks such as a broken hip, there is a very high incidence of loss of physical independence and need for care input at home.

However, we can prevent Osteoporosis and broken bones.

A bone-healthy lifestyle can help to prevent breaks, and this can be started at any age. Taking regular exercise that loads your bones such as walking, dancing or tennis etc. helps to increase bone strength. 

Muscle strength and good balance are vital in supporting your bones and ensuring you reduce the risk of falls. Falls account for the majority of broken bones, so if you can help to prevent falls, you can help to prevent breaks. 

A bone-healthy diet is vital in ensuring you include plenty of calcium, protein and vitamin D alongside other bone-health nutrients. Also, avoiding excessive alcohol, caffeine and smoking (which can all damage bone health).

The International Osteoporosis Foundation Campaign gives these 5 steps to healthy bones and a fracture-free future:

  1. Exercise regularly
  2. Ensure a diet rich in bone-healthy nutrients
  3. Avoid negative lifestyle habits
  4. Find out whether you have risk factors
  5. Get tested and treated if needed.

Risk factors: make sure you know the risk factors for osteoporosis and fractures. 

Some you can’t change such as;

  1. gender
  2. age
  3. ethnicity
  4. family history
  5. certain medical disorders
  6. certain medications

However, there are a lot that you can change;

  1. smoking
  2. insufficient exercise 
  3. excessive alcohol consumption
  4. low body mass index
  5. poor nutrition
  6. vitamin D deficiency
  7. frequent falls

How can Physiotherapy and Pilates help?

Physiotherapists are able to discuss your risk factors with you, and assess your muscle strength, mobility and balance. We can look at your current exercise profile and use our assessment findings to put together an effective and safe exercise program to help maintain healthy bones. The most important muscles are the anti-gravity muscles – the calf, gluts, spinal extensors and triceps in the upper limb. These help to keep your body upright, maintaining good posture and supporting your bones.  Flexed spines in osteoporosis are more likely to get breaks and reduce your quality of life, so exercise to maintain posture and a straight spine is vital.  

Physiotherapy can also help with symptom relief if you do break a bone and in returning you to full activity levels through rehabilitation.

Pilates is an excellent form of exercise for maintaining good posture and strengthening the supportive muscles around your spine and hips. We run a bone health specific class at our Raynes park clinic which includes a range of Pilates exercise in standing to challenge your balance and get you weight bearing through your bones. We also have Pilates instructors at all our other clinics who are clinically trained to safely treat clients with concerns regarding their bone health.

We can work closely with our Strength and Conditioning team to ensure that you have a manageable, appropriate, on-going exercise plan to keep you healthy and fracture-free.

We are also able to refer you to other specialists if we feel you are at higher risk and need further investigations or medical input.

If you feel you need more assistance in getting your bone-healthy diet correct, we can refer you to our Dietitan Linia Patel.